[Updated, 3:20 p.m.] Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editor George Stanley called out Scott Walker, Robin Vos and other GOP elected politicians in a tough, naming-names online "Editors' note" column Saturday - - not in the bigger Sunday hard copy edition, regrettably - - about what I am calling here Recordsgate:
Now we know who tried to gut open records law — and failed
...it was Gov. Scott Walker and staff who added language exempting "deliberative process" documents from public records. This would have allowed elected representatives — and bureaucrats — to bury records revealing lobbying, opinions, analyses, recommendations, negotiations, suggestions and other notes that precede a decision.
...it was Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and staff who sought language that would have granted lawmakers broad new privileges to hide most legislative documents, even when sued, and to ban their staffs from discussing issues even after leaving their jobs...
When the public roared against limiting records access, Gov. Walker said it "didn't come from us."
He is still refusing to release some records revealing the history of his unpopular proposed changes to the mission of the University of Wisconsin, which he blamed on a drafting error. He is using the same language he tried and failed to insert into state law, saying he doesn't have to release records made during deliberation of the proposed changes.This reminds me of somewhat of The New England Patriots Deflategate: An investigation found that damage had been done behind the scenes to the integrity of the game for self-serving, unfair advantage.
The NFL followed through with Tom Brady's four-game suspension, a hefty team fine and loss of a draft pick.
In other words, there were findings, then there were consequences, with lessons taught, we presume.
I know this is not a perfect analogy, certainly, as Recordsgate rattled institutions and procedures and citizens far wider than did a professional playoff football game played on a secretly-tiled field.
Update: And thanks to a commenter who encourages the paper to follow-up strongly on the GOP/Walker/Boss Vos self-serving and partisan attack on the Governmental Accountability Board, since the attack is also undermining fair and open government.
Walker is running for President, and Vos is believed to have his eye on the Wisconsin Governor's mansion should Walker vacate it.
Will the newspaper say, at least for now, that Walker and Vos have caused their bar for support to be raised, and that neither rate the paper's editorial endorsement right now, nor would get it if elections were to be held, say, two Tuesdays from today and the paper were to make endorsements?
The Des Moines Register recently editorialized that Donald Trump should drop out of the Republican presidential race. His attack on John McCain was the tipping point.
Huffington Post took a different tack, saying it would cover the Trump campaign only as entertainment, not politics.
Both actions sent messages made stronger through follow-up.
In other words, what is the newspaper's best response to a coordinated political attack using state power on Wisconsin's foundational democratic processes?
An attack which the newspaper says Gov. Walker is continuing.
I'm realistic enough to know the Journal Sentinel will not go as far as did Iowa's biggest newspaper, or Huffington Post, but will the Journal Sentinel take its strong and justified words of today and back up them up with something to show that there are consequences when elected officials use state power for partisan and personal advantage and are caught red-handed doing so by the state's largest newspaper doing its job on behalf of its readers and the public?
If Stanley's broadside wraps up the paper's justified condemnation in this matter the words will roll off the elected officials' political backs and die in a news cycle now measured in minutes, if not seconds.